Powys Digital History Project 

Upper Swansea Valley
Craig-y-nos Castle 8
by Len Ley


Oriental fireplace
in the drawing room
at Craig-y-nos

Photograph by
kind permission of
Brecknock Museum

Patti's last years
The Diva made her last public appearance in October 1914 when she sang for the Red Cross and, once again, filled the Albert Hall with an adoring public that loved her still. Her life of travel was almost through, and she came to spend the greater part of the year at Craig-y-nos with her husband and a devoted staff.



Her theatre remains a time capsule, and the stage is probably the only surviving example of original 19th century backstage equipment. The sound of her recordings within the auditorium can often affect the people who hear it.
  The Great War touched upon life at the castle when the French Chef and the son of Madam’s personal maid went to war and were killed in the trenches. Among her staff were two German pantry boys and a German laundry girl, all of whom were interned when the war began, but love found a way when the laundry girl wed a local boy and was released immediately.


Household staff in the
Winter Garden at

Photograph by
kind permission of
Brecknock Museum

Staff at Craig-y-nosThe winter garden was another architectural feature to be built for the Baroness at the end of the 19th century. A spacious building with a soaring roof and made mainly from glass, this was where the Diva would promenade with her guests among tropical plants whilst exotic birds flew within. A pair of iron fountains fashioned as cranes with multi-coloured plumage shed rainbow light from their falling waters and captivated all who saw them.

Once again, time and the war brought change to the castle, and in 1918 the Prima Donna presented her winter garden to the people of Swansea where it became the Patti Pavilion and has been restored. One of the fountains stands in the forecourt of the castle and the other is said to exist in the grounds of Swansea University. When the contractors arrived to dismantle the winter garden they were told that all able bodied men had gone to war and they would have to find an alternative labour force.  

  There are 10 pages on Craig-y-nos. Use the box links below to view the other pages.